Authors: Melanie Shawn
Copyright © 2015 Melanie Shawn
All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the original purchaser of this book. No part of this may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission in writing from Melanie Shawn. Exceptions are limited to reviewers who may use brief quotations in connection with reviews. No part of this book can be transmitted, scanned, reproduced, or distributed in any written or electronic form without written permission from Melanie Shawn.
This book is a work of fiction. Places, names, characters and events are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
Disclaimer: The material in this book is for mature audiences only and contains graphic content. It is intended only for those aged 18 and older.
Cover Design by Violet Duke
Copyedits by Mickey Reed Editing
Proofreading Services by Tiesha Brunson, Raiza McDuffie, Jill Grabert Estes
Book Design by BB eBooks
Published by Red Hot Reads Publishing
o!” Logan Dorsey’s hoarse voice called out as he pushed off his mattress, sitting up straight, his entire body damp with perspiration.
His heart pounded rapidly. Erratically. Every muscle in his six-foot-two frame was tense from exertion. The only sound he heard was his breath coming in heavy pants.
His body was alert, on edge, and he was hard. Very hard.
For a moment, nothing was clear. Nothing was real. The imprint of long, blonde hair, full red lips, the smell of heaven, and the face of an angel that made Logan want to sin in the worst way, was all that lingered in his semi-conscious brain.
He did a quick mental inventory of his surroundings. The room was pitch black, but he still knew that his eyesight was blurred. So he wiped his blurry eyes.
He was in his bed.
As his heart rate slowed and the blood that had congregated in his groin began redistributing, he sighed in frustration. Lately, his nights had been filled with nightmares. Either he dreamt of the one woman in this world who was completely off-limits or he had vivid episodes he called “bad dreams,” but the therapist—who he’d seen exactly one time—saw the self-diagnosis cards he’d dealt himself and raised him, labeling these far-too-frequent occurrences as “night terrors” brought on by PTSD.
It was bad enough that during his waking hours, his mind never let the memories go. Logan—in his opinion—suffered from an eidetic memory; commonly referred to as a photographic memory. Once he took information in, it was like his brain trapped it, held it prisoner, and never forgot anything. His one escape had always been sleep, but over the past few years, he’d been just as haunted during the night as he’d been during the day.
Evidently, his mind was an equal-opportunity tormentor. He wasn’t sure which was worse—the woman who haunted his dreams or the past he never wanted to relive.
Because he hadn’t gone back to therapy after that initial visit, he had yet to work out how to fix his dilemma. It wasn’t that he doubted the station’s psychologist. It was actually quite the opposite.
She’d hit the bull’s-eye with her diagnosis, which was exactly why he never returned to her office.
Fiercely private. If he was given two words to describe himself, those summarized him perfectly. As far back as he could remember, he’d kept to himself. Growing up a twin, Logan had constantly been the recipient of unwanted attention. Thankfully, his brother Lucas—or “Lucky,” which he’d been known as since they were twelve because he’d lost his virginity before any of their other friends—had always been more than happy to absorb the spotlight. Logan and Lucky couldn’t be more opposite.
Lucky was outgoing, loved being the center of attention, and never met a stranger. He was also hotheaded and a fighter. Literally, it was his profession. He was an MMA fighter.
Logan was quiet. He was an observer. He kept to himself, and his inner circle was small. Very small. He didn’t trust easily and never opened up. So to sit in an office with a stranger, for the sole purpose of telling them personal details of his life, wasn’t exactly his cup of tea.
Running his hands through his thick hair, Logan took a deep breath and stood. He crossed the room in two long strides and pulled open the noise-reducing, room-darkening curtains he’d just purchased. Even though this was a rental, he’d happily paid out of pocket for what he considered a quality-of-life item. He had enough trouble sleeping without the interference of unwanted noise and light.
It was still dark outside but the moon illuminated the vista, giving it a dream-like feeling. After his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he gazed over the breathtaking view. Lush pine trees covered the mountainside. A creek wound down, weaving around the large trunks planted firmly in the earth.
As he opened the glass, the sound of birds tweeting and water running filled his bedroom. It was the epitome of peace and tranquility, which was exactly what Logan was told he needed during his “voluntary” leave of absence from the force. Decompress. That’s what he was supposed to be doing—whatever that meant.
For the first time since he’d joined the Marines at eighteen, he wasn’t on the job. He didn’t have an assignment. He had no mission to complete.
So here he was. In Hope Falls. A small town about forty miles from Lake Tahoe, tucked in the Sierra Nevadas, that looked like it was a postcard come to life. The downtown area was three blocks long, lined with wooden sidewalks and mom-and-pop businesses that donned colorful awnings. There were no fast food restaurants, no chain stores, and no nightlife.
In theory, it was the ideal place to reset.
A loud knock vibrated through the walls, and he checked the time. It was four thirty. He only knew a few people in this town; his older brother Levi, his cousin Adam, and Charles Dorsey, the man who donated his DNA but had never been a father to him. He doubted that the person knocking on his door at the butt crack of dawn was a relative though.
Since he’d moved in, a steady stream of people—women—had welcomed him to town. Sometimes they brought baked goods. Sometimes they brought wine. And sometimes, they showed up wearing nothing but a bikini and a smile with invitations to go white-water rafting, canoeing, or BBQing…indoors.
He pulled on the pants he’d dropped on the floor the night before, and made his way across the living room as silently as possible. He realized that maybe some men would’ve taken advantage of the all-female welcome party. Hell, his own brother would for damn sure. But Logan had only opened the door for the first two ladies who’d “dropped by to say hi” and see if he was “settling in okay.”
When it had taken a good fifteen minutes to send the well-wishers on their way, Logan had learned his lesson and stopped opening the door. That was when the women then started leaving notes with their phone numbers, which he never called. The last thing he needed was to drag someone into his messed-up life. It wasn’t a good place to be—not even to visit.
Shutting one eye, he leaned against the door and looked through the peephole.
Well, hell, he’d been wrong. The person on the other side of the door
a relative and also the main reason Logan had taken this particular rental. It had not been for the view, although that would’ve been enough to seal the deal. Not for the spacious garage, which he spent most of his time in. And not even for the fact that the three-bedroom, two-bath was significantly more space than he needed.
No, none of those things had mattered. He’d snatched up this particular cabin because of its vicinity to another resident in this small town.
Charles Dorsey. His father, who was standing on his porch, was the reason. The father—and he used that term loosely—he’d only ever seen one time in his life up until about a month ago, when the man who had been more of a myth in Logan’s mind than a reality, attended Levi’s wedding. For Logan, his older brother was the only true father figure he ever had.
He had no idea what Charlie wanted this early in the morning, but there was only one way to find out.
Before he even had the door halfway open, Charlie greeted him with a chipper, “Good morning.”
“Morning,” Logan grumbled. He was much less upbeat.
“Just wanted to stop by and see if you wanted to go fishing?” Charlie asked hopefully.
“Not today. I’m working on the bike.” Logan was building a motorcycle, which had been the only form of therapy that had ever worked for him. He’d been doing it for eight years now.
“Oh, okay. Well, how about dinner tomorrow?”
“Yeah, maybe,” Logan agreed reluctantly.
“Great!” Charlie brought his hands together in one enthusiastic clap. “See you tomorrow.” With that, he double-timed it off the porch. Apparently, he didn’t want to hang around in case Logan changed his mind.
Closing the door, Logan let out a deep breath at the surreal-ness of this whole situation.
When Logan and Lucky were twelve, their mother had passed away. The funeral was the first time he’d ever laid eyes on the man he’d only ever thought of as a sperm donor. Charlie, who had been a con man at the time, had stuck around for about a week after, but when he’d found out that the mother of his children didn’t have any money and the only thing he would be inheriting was the twin boys he’d sired, he took off. Levi, who was eighteen at the time, had stepped in and taken uncontested custody of both boys.
Now, twenty years later, their father was back in their lives. After he battled addiction and served a six-year sentence for fraud and other petty offenses, he’d supposedly cleaned up his act. He’d been sober for several years, and he was now an addiction counselor.
A couple of months ago, he’d shown up out of the blue in Hope Falls to reconnect with Levi, who owned the one and only bar in the town and had just opened up a bed and breakfast. His older brother had
welcomed their absentee father with open arms, but at the suggestion of his new bride, he’d decided to give the old man a chance.
Lucky, on the other hand, was all in. He’d been talking to their father every day on the phone. Lucky’s take on life was to look forward and not back, which was probably easier when you didn’t have a steel trap for a memory that never allowed you to forget anything.
Even though Logan didn’t have the history Levi and Charlie shared, he definitely didn’t share his twin’s enthusiasm. His hesitancy stemmed from his father’s behavior at his mother’s will reading. Logan remembered Charlie throwing the lawyer’s phone across the room as he’d yelled at the top of his lungs that there was no way all “that bitch” had left him was “the two little shits.”
Apparently, Charlie had changed. Logan wasn’t going to trust that until he saw it with his own eyes. Since he was being forced to take some time off, he figured what better place to do it than here in Hope Falls.